The Best Fried Chicken John Catucci Has Ever Had – Plus a Surprising Fast Food Fave

What’s better than a juicy, crispy piece of fried chicken? When that beautiful buttermilk batter meets a perfectly seasoned piece of breast, leg or thigh, our mouths can’t help but water at the very thought of diving right in.

Know who else is in love with fried chicken? Big Food Bucket List host John Catucci. The foodie/traveller extraordinaire is all about a good, old-fashioned plate of the comfort food staple, and this season he’s eating a lot of it. From classic buttermilk fried chicken to southern fried chicken wings, check out the dishes that are topping John’s bucket list.

With all the fried chicken recipes out there, what does it take to capture John’s stomach? “We went to a place called Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans this season that had the best fried chicken I’ve ever had,” he tells us. “They did a wet batter—it wasn’t a dredge—and they mixed it all together with hot sauce as well. And then they fry it up.”


Willie Mae Scotch House’s Fried Chicken

Drooling yet? We are. And it’s not just John who is preaching the accolades of Willie Mae’s fried chicken—this spot is also Beyonce’s favourite.

According to John, the end result was a perfectly prepared piece of poultry that was “incredibly crispy” on the outside and “incredibly juicy” on the inside. No wonder the James Beard Award-winning spot has been named as having “America’s Best Chicken.”

“I’d never had anything like that,” Catucci raves. “A lot of times [places] will do that double dredge where it gets a really crispy batter but sometimes that kind of takes away from the chicken itself. This didn’t—this was just superb.”


Butchie’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken Wings with Baba’s Cucumber Salad, Green Beans and Devilled Eggs

So what does one pair with the most superb fried chicken he’s ever had in his life? A good old-fashioned biscuit and some coleslaw, of course. Catucci reveals that he’s into a vinegary coleslaw because it cuts through the fattiness of the chicken, but he’d also “smash” a creamy coleslaw if it was on the table.

The one thing Catucci wouldn’t smash though? Fried chicken smothered in hot sauce (sorry, Beyonce). He’s a mild man, all the way.


Burdock and Co.’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken

“It’s gotta be mild. I’m such a wimp!” he laughs.

If you’re not able to get to one of these bucket list fried chicken dishes anytime soon, don’t worry. Catucci has another obsession that’s a bit more accessible, and also slightly surprising.

“Recently I was at my sister’s house watching the Raptors game and we ordered Popeyes… it’s great chicken!” he reveals. “We were like, ‘Holy…this is good.’ They make great chicken. I’ve honestly been craving it. We have to pace ourselves because there’s one just down the street from my house.”

Watch Big Food Bucket List Fridays at 9 PM and 9:30 PM ET.

From Keto to Whole30 to Vegan: What is the Best Healthy Diet? Experts Weigh In

The nutrition world can be so confusing. It’s hard to keep up with healthy eating habits when you’re constantly being told conflicting information about your diet. Is fat good or bad? Should you eat carbs? Is it better to be plant-based or eat meat? Which diet is the best for overall health: Keto, Whole30, Vegan, Mediterranean, Paleo, Dash or Flexitarian? Sometimes it feels so overwhelming, you may be ready to jump ship and settle into life as a breatharian, subsisting only on air and sunlight – of course you shouldn’t do this, and yes, this is a real thing! Well, as nutritionists, we’re about to break down the above listed diets to make them as digestible (pun intended) as possible.

The Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet began as a treatment for epilepsy in the 1920s. Now, people turn to it for weight loss, cancer recovery and even alzheimer’s prevention. The keto diet’s emphasis is on eating high fat, moderate protein and low carb. The idea is to kick the body into ketosis, so it burns ketones, rather than glucose (the fuel most commonly burned), which is why it’s important to limit protein, starchy veggies and fruit. Many people have found that eating keto has helped with mental clarity, athletic performance and weight loss. But, this diet is no walk in the park, it does require a lot of effort and some math if you want to truly be in a state of ketosis; you can always use keto strips to test if you are there or not.

What to Eat:
● Low-glycemic veggies & fruit (e.g. leafy greens, cucumbers, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, asparagus, berries)
● Healthy fats (e.g. avocado, coconut, extra-virgin olive oil, olives, cheese, yogurt, cream, butter, select nuts and seeds)
● Protein, eaten in moderation (e.g. beef, seafood, poultry, eggs)

What Not to Eat:
● Grains
● Beans, legumes, pulses
● Refined and natural sugars
● Starchy veggies (e.g. sweet potato, squash, beets, potatoes)
● High-glycemic fruit (e.g. pineapple, melons, bananas)


Get the recipe for 30-Minute Keto Kung Pao Chicken

The Vegan Diet

The vegan diet relies on eating plant-based: so not only steering clear of meat, but also removing animal by-products from your diet, including eggs, dairy, poultry, meat, fish and even honey. The purpose is to live an ethical, cruelty-free life that does not harm animals; this often trickles beyond the diet and can involve vegan makeup, clothing and home decor. Being plant-based means eating lots of veggies, but it is possible to be vegan and still eat unhealthy. While the focus is on plants, there’s no real objection to eating deep fried, sugary and refined carbs. So, if veganism is right for you, then it’s best to stay away from the refined stuff and stick to whole foods.

What to Eat:
● All veggies & fruit
● Beans, legumes, pulses
● Grains
● Nuts & seeds

What Not to Eat:
● All animal products & by-products (e.g. meat, fish, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy, honey)


Get the recipe for Vegan Lasagna Roll Ups with Almond Ricotta

The Whole30 Diet

Whole30 is a 30-day nutrition reset program to help restore the gut, energy levels, metabolism and curb unhealthy cravings and habits. For 30 days, your commitment is to eliminate all grains, refined and natural sweeteners, beans, legumes, pulses, dairy, preservatives and additives, and any and all junk food, even if the ingredients are on the “ok” list. The goal is to eat real food, like lots and lots of vegetables, some fruit, moderate portions of meat, poultry, fish, seafood and eggs, and to use real food like fresh herbs to flavour your meals. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, this program can be challenging, but there are resources out there to aid you through it.

What to Eat:
● Lots of vegetables
● Some fruit
● Moderate amount of meat, poultry, fish, seafood and eggs
● Lots of healthy fat (e.g. coconut, extra-virgin olive oil, avocados)
● Herbs and spices

What Not to Eat:
● Refined, artificial and natural sugars (e.g. white sugar, splenda, maple syrup, honey)
● Alcohol
● Grains (e.g. wheat, oats, corn, quinoa, rice)
● Legumes (e.g. chickpeas, peanuts, lentils, soy sauce, edamame, tofu)
● Dairy
● Carrageenan, MSG, Sulfites
● Baked goods or treats (even if they’re “healthy”)


Get the recipe for Instant Pot Whole30 Chicken Tikka Masala

The Mediterranean Diet

If you love the cuisines of Spain, Greece and Italy, you will love the Mediterranean diet. This particular style of eating has been widely researched and touted as the heart-healthy diet for its emphasis on healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil, olives, nuts and fish. People have also had success with weight loss on this diet. The emphasis is on lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, whole grains, nuts, legumes and extra-virgin olive oil. Poultry, dairy and eggs should only be eaten in moderation, all refined sugars are big no-no’s and red meat should rarely be eaten, if at all.

What to Eat:
● Lots of vegetables and fruit
● Healthy fats (e.g. extra-virgin olive oil, olives, nuts)
● Whole grains
● Beans, legumes, pulses
● Fish
● Poultry, dairy, eggs in moderation

What Not to Eat:
● Red meat (eaten only a few times a month, if at all)
● Refined sugar and grains


Get the recipe for Bobby Flay’s Grilled Snapper Vera Cruz

The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet is based on what hunter-gatherers ate during the paleolithic era, and has since become popular, partly thanks to CrossFitters who swear by this style of eating. The main idea is to eat real, whole foods that are unprocessed, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and animal protein, and to eliminate all grains, legumes, beans, dairy and refined sugar. The thought is that this style of eating may help with disease prevention and weight loss. While refined grains and sugars may be out, you can still enjoy starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots and beets, and natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey.

What to Eat:
● Lots of vegetables and fruit
● Animal protein (fish, seafood, eggs, meat, poultry)
● Nuts and seeds
● Healthy fats

What Not to Eat:
● Grains
● Beans, legumes, pulses
● Dairy
● Refined sugar and grains
● Processed foods
● White potatoes


Get the recipe for Grain-Free Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

The DASH Diet

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) was created by the National Institute of Health to help lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol. It’s a simple and sustainable diet to follow that promotes long-term health benefits by emphasizing vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, poultry, fish, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Refined sugars and sugar-sweetened beverages, high intakes of salt, fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy and tropical oils like coconut and palm should be cut out. The main goal is to eat a diet that is rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fibre and protein.

What to Eat:
● Lots of vegetables and fruit
● Whole grains
● Beans, legumes, pulses
● Poultry, fish, lean meats
● Low-fat dairy

What Not to Eat:
● Refined sugars
● Lots of salt
● Lots of saturated fat and fatty meat
● Full-fat dairy
● Tropical oils (e.g. coconut oil and palm oil)


Get the recipe for Healthy Buddha Bowl with Creamy Tahini Dressing

The Flexitarian Diet

The flexitarian diet is kind of like being a flexible vegetarian– the purpose is to eat mainly plant-based, but incorporate animal protein when your body feels that it needs it. The goal to having more plant-centric meals is to reduce your carbon footprint, prevent disease and often as a side effect, lose weight. The diet emphasizes lots of plants like fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, pulses, whole grains, nuts and seeds and then animal protein like eggs, fish, poultry, meat and dairy in more minimal amounts when you need it. This diet doesn’t really have any hard or fast rules, there’s no all or nothing, just feel out when your body is craving healthy forms of animal products, and when it isn’t.

What to Eat:
● Lots of vegetables and fruit
● Whole grains
● Beans, legumes, pulses
● Nuts and seeds

What to Eat in Minimal Amounts:
● All animal products (poultry, fish, meat)
● Refined sugars, refined grains and processed foods


Get the recipe for Ina Garten’s Roast Chicken Cobb Salad

So, which diet should YOU follow?

Here’s the truth: as you look through each of these diets, there are many common threads: eat lots of vegetables, consume healthy fats and eliminate refined sugar and grains. The “best” diet doesn’t really exist, because there’s no one size-fits-all approach that’s going to be good for everyone. Every ‘body’ is unique, digests food differently and needs varying amounts of nutrients, so it’s important to think about what you feel best eating, and what your health goals are. As nutritionists, the best advice we can give is to make veggies the star of your plate and load up on produce that’s bursting with colour, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients, and then decide which ingredients you’d like to accompany these foods, whether it’s whole-grains, nuts, legumes or meat. As long as you eat whole foods and listen to your body, the rest will follow.

Hungry for more? Achieve a glowing complexion with these nutritionist-backed tips on the 10 best natural foods for dewy skin. You can also peek inside these health experts fridge for meal prep inspiration (it’ll change the way you grocery shop!).

This Berry, Lemon & Tahini Pound Cake is Summer in Dessert Form

Tahini adds a pleasingly nutty, bitter note to this sophisticated summer berry pound cake, while lemon zest and juice, in both the cake and glaze, cut through this dessert’s richness. The addition of the oil-rich tahini keeps the cake moist for days on the counter, though it will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. It’s just sweet enough without tasting cloying, allowing every ingredient to shine through. The cake gets a final flourish from edible flowers, making summer tea time that much more magical. And, it’s dairy-free!

Dairy-Free Summer Berry, Lemon and Tahini Pound Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Cooling Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 40 minutes
Makes: 1 loaf
Serves: 10

Ingredients:

Cake
½ cup well-stirred tahini, room temperature
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1¾ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine-grain salt
½ cup unsweetened plain almond milk
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups fresh or frozen (do not defrost) berries (raspberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries)

Glaze
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp almond milk
Zest of ½ lemon
Edible flowers

Directions:

Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a standard loaf pan and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang for easy removal.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat tahini, oil, eggs, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until lighter in colour and texture.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. Turn on mixer to low and slowly add flour mixture, alternating with milk and finishing with flour mixture. Stop mixer before all of the flour is incorporated. Using a spatula, gently fold in fresh berries and lemon zest. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
5. Bake for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with just a few damp crumbs but is mostly clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife. Using the parchment overhang, transfer pound cake to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Glaze
1. In a medium bowl, whisk icing sugar, lemon juice and milk until smooth. Keep the fully cooled pound cake on the wire rack and place the rack on top of a clean baking sheet.
2. Pour glaze evenly over cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. While glaze is still wet, top with lemon zest and edible flowers. Let glaze set, if desired, about 2 hours, and then slice and serve.
3. Store pound cake (with set glaze) airtight at room temperature for 3 days, or refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Baking with tahini lends a certain creaminess and earthy flavour you never knew you were missing. Want more? We recommend these Healthy 7-Ingredient Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Anna Olson Dessert Station

Anna Olson’s Best Dessert Station Recipes for a Picture-Perfect Party

It’s time to party!  We as Canadians know how to appreciate every bit of sweetness that our summer season gives to us, and that includes entertaining guests for birthdays, bridal and baby showers, graduations and family reunions, and even better if we can host outdoors.

Maybe you’ve figured out the snacks and nibbles, and you know that the grill will be fired up to take care of the main part of the meal, but what to do about dessert?

Anna Olson's Raspberry Fruit Jellies
Homemade Raspberry Jellies

Dessert stations are the hot ticket at professionally catered events, but you don’t have to be a caterer to create a beautiful, themed dessert bar.  Having such a set up is ideal for a large group because there are some guests who will make one visit to grab a sweet plate, some may take a pass altogether, and there are others who may sneak in multiple trips.

A dessert station also allows you to use time before the party starts to set up the table nicely, leaving space for your bowls and platters that need to be refrigerated to be added last minute, and all of the work is done ahead of time — anything that allows you to be more of a guest at your own party gets a checkmark in my book.

Here are a few fun ideas for summery desserts that suit a party:

Waffle Dessert Station

Hosting a brunch party or shower? Waffles don’t have to be a part of the breakfast portion…make them dessert!

If you have space and the inclination, you could set up an “action station” and let people make their own waffles, or you (or a “voluntold” family member) could make them.  As your guests take their waffles, have an assortment of sauces and toppings ready for dressing:

  • Chocolate, Dulce de Leche or caramel sauce
  • Fresh fruits: berries, pineapple, bananas, mango
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • Cupcake frosting (colour-tinted or rainbow if your party has a colour theme)
  • Sprinkles (for that unicorn effect)
  • Mini marshmallows (for the s’mores effect)
  • Whipped Cream

There are two main types of waffles you can make:

1. Classic buttermilk waffles are made from a batter similar to pancakes, but have whipped egg whites folded in right before making.

2. Liege waffles are a yeast-raised waffle dough, that has crushed sugar cubes added before portioning.  This dough can be made ahead and chilled (which might be handy before a busy party day).

See More: Anna Olson’s Maple Bacon Waffle Cake

Cupcake Garden Dessert Station

Cupcakes are the perfect summer party dessert.  They are easy to pick up and eat with your fingers, the perfect single portion and as pretty as can be!  You may have thought that cupcakes were just a dessert “phase” we were going through, but they have stood the test of time and are still a popular choice at weddings, showers and other garden parties.

Of course, you can decorate your cupcakes as simple or as elaborate as you wish, but if hosting your party outside, why not make a flower garden of your cupcake display?  Here is my recipe that shows how to decorate some colourful flowers. I use my piping tip set and disposable (but reusable and recyclable) piping bags from the Anna Olson Kitchen line to get the job done.

Anna-Olson-Cupcake-Garden
Vanilla Cupcakes with Floral Frosting

See more: Anna Olson’s Very Best Cupcake Recipes

All Things Sprinkles!

Anything with sprinkles is hot right now, so make a colourful dessert station out of just about any assortment of desserts, so long as sprinkles abound on top and/or within them! Tarts, cakes, cupcakes, ice cream, cookies, squares — just about any sweet treat takes on a playful tone when sprinkles are added.

Confetti-Frosted-Sugar-Cookie-Squares
Confetti Frosted Sugar Cookie Squares

You can use bowls and jars of sprinkles as part of the table decor, or just provide spoons so people can add sprinkles as they wish.

Party Table Tips

Now that you’ve picked your dessert table theme, here are a few tips for success as you plan and assemble:

1. Location

If setting up your dessert table outdoors, be sure that it is shaded, so that desserts don’t melt in direct sunlight. This also applies to indoors — avoid setting a dessert table near a window with direct sunlight, which can magnify the heat and melt the icing off a cake!

2. Labels 

Place tags next to each dessert item, so that if unattended, guests know what the desserts are. Include potential allergens, or note if items are “free” from gluten, eggs, dairy, etc.

See More: Anna’s Vegan Baking Hacks

3. Serving Tools 

Place serving tools on each platter or plate, but have a few spares on hand, just in case a spoon slips into the whipped cream bowl.

4. Use Battery Twinkle Lights 

Tea lights are pretty, but can be dangerous on a dessert table if an arm with a sleeve reaches over an open flame. Strings of battery-operated twinkle lights are easy to arrange and add the perfect sparkle.

5. Takeaway Boxes 

Want guests to take treats home with them? Bakery boxes or more decorative boxes can be purchased affordably at craft stores.

I hope you are as excited as I am for the summer hosting season… I’ll see you on the back deck!

Anna Olson Party Desserts

The Anna Olson Kitchen collection of 48 items of bakeware, baking tools and decor tools are available exclusively at The Hudson’s Bay Company and www.thebay.com

How to Grill the Perfect Piri Piri Spatchcock Chicken

Piri piri is a fiery, bright orange hot sauce with roots in Portugal, Angola and Mozambique. You can buy the bottled stuff at most grocery stores, but the homemade version is world’s apart. You can slather it on just about anything, but there’s no better pairing than chicken. There are many variations of piri piri chicken, but we’ve based this one on the dishes found in Canada’s many Little Portugals. To ensure the chicken cooks evenly, we’ve used a technique called spatchcocking (also referred to as butterflying). It may seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite simple, you just need a good pair of kitchen shears.

Piri Piri Spatchcock Chicken

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients:
1 500-ml jar roasted red peppers, drained
5 to 6 Thai chilis, stems removed
4 large garlic cloves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp kosher salt, divided
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil, divided
1.5-kg whole chicken, at room temperature
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:
1. In the top of a blender, whirl peppers with chilis, garlic, oregano and salt until smooth. Scrape into a small saucepan and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to cook out any raw flavours, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes (do not skip this step, as it can be dangerous to blend hot liquids). Return mixture to blender. Add lemon juice and whirl on low to combine. With the motor still running, carefully remove the blender lid and slowly stream in oil. Scrape into a liquid measuring cup, you should have about 2 1/2 cups. Reserve 1/2 cup for basting chicken.

2. Meanwhile, oil the grill, then preheat to medium-high.

3. Position chicken breast side-down on a clean cutting board. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along either side of the spine to remove the backbone. Flip chicken over and spread legs apart. Gently but firmly push down on the breastbone until you hear the wishbone snap. Tuck wings behind the breast, then transfer chicken to a baking tray. Pat dry with paper towel. Brush with remaining 1 Tbsp oil, then sprinkle with 1 salt, smoked paprika and pepper.

4. Place chicken skin-side down on grill. Lower heat to medium and cook, with lid closed, until lightly charred, about 10 minutes. Brush with reserved piri piri sauce, then carefully flip chicken. Continue to cook, brushing with sauce every 10 minutes, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165°F, about 40 minutes.

5. Set aside until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carve away legs and place on a clean cutting board. Find the joint connecting the thigh and drumstick and slice between it. Repeat with other leg. Remove breasts and cut in half width-wise. Remove wings. Transfer to a platter, and serve with remaining piri piri sauce.

Kitchen Tip: Every barbecue performs differently, so adjust heat levels to maintain a temperature between 300°F and 350°F. Keep a close eye on your chicken to avoid flare-ups!

Looking for more barbecue inspiration? We’ve rounded up 25 Quick and Easy Barbecue Dinner Recipes, plus 45 Easy Leftover Chicken Recipes.

The Keto Kung Pao Chicken Recipe That is Better Than Takeout

Whether you’re a keto follower or not, this weeknight chicken dish will satisfy protein lovers and healthy veggie seekers alike. At first glance, the ingredient list may seem daunting, but you’re really just re-using the same pantry staples with a few extra options. Better than takeout, you won’t need to invest in a wok, we’ve made this delicious meal in a large cast-iron pan, and no one was the wiser.

30-Minute Keto Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes (this includes marinating. While the chicken is marinating, prep the vegetables and sauce).
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
450g boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil, divided
4-6 dried red chilies
4 green onions, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 red finger chili (optional)
1 bunch asparagus, cut in large pieces
1 sweet bell pepper, halved, cored and cut into cubes
4 tsp each minced garlic and ginger
2 mini cucumber, cut in small cubes
1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts or cashews
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Sauce:
3 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 Tbsp each soy sauce and white vinegar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Asian chili-garlic sauce (optional)

Directions:
1. In a bowl, combine chicken, 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp rice wine and 2 tsp cornstarch; stir to combine. Let stand to marinate 15 minutes.

2. In large cast-iron pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add dried chilies, green onions and finger chili (if using) and cook, stirring until green onions are slightly charred, about 1 minute. Transfer to a baking sheet or large plate.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp of remaining oil in the pan. Add asparagus and bell pepper and cook, stirring until slightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Transfer to baking sheet. Add remaining 11/2 tsp oil to pan; working in 2 batches, stir-fry chicken until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per batch, repeating with remaining oil.

5. Sauce: In small bowl, stir together water, rice wine, soy sauce and cornstarch until smooth. Return the chicken, vegetables and chilies to the pan. Sprinkle with salt; stir in the sauce and cook until liquid is bubbling and thickened, 30-45 seconds. Stir in cucumbers, peanuts and chili-garlic sauce (if using); sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Tip: For evenly browned chicken, avoid crowding in the pan, and don’t stir immediately. Check one piece before turning the remaining with a spatula.

Looking for more healthy recipe inspo? We’ve rounded up 20 Easy Keto Dinners to Make This Week, plus 15 Recipes Packed with Healthy Fats to Keep You Full

Top-Chef-Canada-season-7-Winner-Interview

Top Chef Canada Winner: Exclusive Interview with the Season 7 Champion

In a Top Chef Canada season full of next-level chefs and emerging Canadian talent, it was Tofino’s own Paul Moran, a.k.a. “The Competition Chef,” who was named the chef to beat from the very first episode. Throughout the series, he pulled out win after win, and while he had some stumbles along the way, he dug deep in a five-course finale showdown against Phil Scarfone to blow the judges away and take home this year’s title.

Paul Moran Top Chef Canada Winner

Paul takes home the win!

“He did a partridge [pigeon] that was extraordinary. There’s a maturity to Paul’s cooking. He’s worked in a lot of good places and he’s very studied, very dedicated, and it showed on his plate,” says head judge Mark McEwan. “I saw him coming through early on as being very strong. He was not a surprise winner—he was technically the best chef in the kitchen.”

“The same thing kept coming up the entire season, and that was Paul’s technique,” adds host Eden Grinshpan. “No one could really match that level of technique. His confidence was palpable. You could taste it.”

On the heels of Paul Moran’s Top Chef Canada win, we caught up with the chef to learn how he stayed so calm and focused throughout the entire season, how he hopes his win will shine a spotlight on Canadian foraging, and his very big plans for the future.

What was it like when they called your name as Top Chef Canada?

It had been a pretty intense journey to get to that point, and that made it more real. You’re thinking about getting to the end the whole time that you’re there. And then it happened and it was like, ‘What? It’s over?’ You’re just focusing so hard on the moment. That was definitely surreal.

What was your secret to staying so focused throughout?

I treated the challenges and everything as part of the competition as a whole. Sure, I wanted to have the best dish all the time, but there was a time when I didn’t have the best dish or I was on the bottom. I didn’t let that get me down or affect my confidence in any way. I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to win the whole thing and I was confident enough in my ability to do it, so that’s what I brought to the whole thing.

Was there ever a moment where you thought, ‘Okay maybe I do have a chance at this’?

I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think I had a good chance of winning—regardless of who was competing. Before I was accepted into the show I was confident. I felt pretty good from the first challenge that I could win.

Were there any particular competitors you saw as the person or the people to beat?

I don’t think so. I approached it in the opposite way; I was more worried about myself than what other people were doing.

What was your reaction to Phil calling you out as the chef to beat from the first episode?

I thought it was pretty funny. Phil and I have known each other, we’d worked together before in the kitchen and at events. He knows that I’ve done a lot of competitions so it was kind of funny to see. I wasn’t expecting that.

Phil congratulates Paul on his Top Chef Canada win

Did you do anything differently to prepare for the competition that is Top Chef Canada?

No. It all comes down to your ability to cook and your repertoire of recipes. A lot of the competitions that I’ve done in the past have only ever been like, one or two recipes or dishes that you prepared, not 20. That was part of the challenge here, was pulling out full class recipes time and time again. So making sure that I had those all in the back of my head before going in was pretty important.

Was there like one dish that you’re the most proud of from your time on the show?

I guess the pigeon from the finale, the main course. It just speaks to who I am as a chef and was the best out of any other dish that I made. It showed my passion for wild food and it had a lot of my experiences in there, techniques that I picked up and little things from all different places from all over the world, that I incorporated into that plate.

Paul Moran Top Chef Canada Partridge

Paul’s bacon-wrapped pigeon breast and confit leg with glazed sunchokes, currants and stuffed morels

How important is traveling for a chef looking to take their skills to the next level?

I think if you want to be one of the best it’s pretty much essential. I don’t think you can substitute that experience or even come close to substituting it. Working for great chefs in Canada who have already done those things, maybe. But that doesn’t substitute for a great, international experience.

Is there a dish you’d love to be able to go back and redo?

Yeah, when our parents and significant others came out, when my dad was out, he brought wild mushrooms and we made a chicken dish in the Quickfire. If I could go back and redo that one I would. I’d probably just do something a little bit simpler. Work on my presentation and maybe make something that was more suitable to sitting around a little bit longer while the judges were tasting other dishes.

Do any of the judges’ remarks or commentary on your food stand out for you now, looking back?

When Mijune Pak knew the origins of my family dish, the heritage dish that we did in the first episode’s Elimination Challenge. I had explained that it was a liver dumpling and she was asking if it was like the authentic Austrian liver dumpling [Leberknödel]. And just the fact that she liked the dish and knew exactly where I was coming from with the story, that was pretty cool.

Paul’s Chicken and foie gras stuffed morel mushrooms with morel and chicken broth

Along the way, who were you most surprised to see go home?

I was kind of surprised to see Takeshi go so early. I was a little bit disappointed because I was expecting to see quite a bit from him. I have a lot of respect for Japanese culture and cuisine and I figured he would represent that in a small way with the chef that he was working for, but I was surprised to see him go first. But everybody was on a pretty even playing field. It was anybody’s win and this was a pretty talented group of people.

Are you hoping your win brings more recognition to foraging?

Yeah. I’ve been working with wild food for a long time but mostly commercially on a wholesale level, so I just launched a website where I’ll be able to show my passion for wild food to people through recipes and photo galleries. I’ll also have a retail brand for people to be able to purchase a lot of the ingredients I worked with on Top Chef Canada and that I work with in Tofino. I want to reflect on the day-to-day mission statements of promoting wild food and wild food culture and make it an essential part of all Canadians’ lives. That’s a big goal of mine moving forward.

I also just finished my free-diving certification so I can go out and harvest all the seaweed I want. Water foraging is kind of the last frontier for me. So things like wild mushrooms and seaweed and wild rice, different things all over the country will be on the website and accessible and there will be a lot of inspiration in terms of photos and recipes for people to check out as well.

Paul forages a giant puffball mushroom

Paul forages a giant puffball mushroom

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start foraging?

Go with somebody who knows what they’re doing, treat them well and see if they’ll take you out a couple of more times. Just go with as many people as possible, as many times as possible, before you go out and do it on your own. There are lots of different clubs you can join.

Do you have any other plans for your winnings?

With the Air Transat flight, I’m definitely going to go somewhere warm. They fly to lots of sunny beaches. I’m super excited [for] the Italy and Napa trips. There’s a six-hector property I’m planning on purchasing on a pretty remote island out in B.C this fall. The end goal is to develop it into a boutique, seasonal resort. People can follow along with the progress of that on the website, and that will take up a lot of my attention over the next few years. I have a five-year plan to turn it from a small vacation rental to a proper, functioning, seasonal resort. And to be able to share my whole passion of cooking, foraging, fishing up there.

 

Top-Chef-Canada-Chef-Congeniality-BFF

The Season 7 Chefs Reveal Their Top Chef Canada BFF

When it comes to the cooking competition that is Top Chef Canada, kitchen prowess is only part of the game. Okay yes, a contestant’s culinary skills are what the judges are evaluating for the grand prize, but the impression a chef makes on viewers and on their fellow competitors counts for something too.

This year we asked each of the chefs to name who they think should win the title of Top Chef Canada Congeniality, and three chefs stood head and shoulders above the rest. So who, among the bromantic pals, goofy gals and dreamy studs (here’s looking at you, Dennis) made the cut?

“It’s a very hard question,” Sebastien says. “Renee, Phil, Dennis and Paul… Benet too, he’s an animal! I hope I get to do events with all the contestants from this season. It was great to meet chefs from all over Canada.”

But while Sebastien split his vote five ways, the others made some loud and clear picks. In the end it all came down to Tania, Phil, and of course, Dennis. Let’s take a look.

Phil Scarfone

How can you not appreciate the Vancouver chef, with his impeccable facial hair and undying love for his mother? Phil won us over week after week with his high class dishes and even higher-class attitude. His cooking was no joke (he did make it all the way to the finale, after all), and we’re still dreaming of his delightful-looking pasta, but he also connected with his co-stars.

“Definitely Phil Scarfone,” Renee declares when making her picks. “He was always there to give me a hug and words of encouragement.”

Top Chef Canada Chef Phil Scarfone

Phil Scarfone on Top Chef Canada

Tania Ganassini

While we knew Tania’s bubbly personality and ability to connect with her castmates made her a strong contender for this award, we also can’t forget that time during Restaurant Wars when she offered to act as host… and then forgot the judges’ orders. Somehow, she managed to recover from that gaff and still wow Mark, Eden and co. If you ask us, when it comes to the title of congeniality, that’s just as telling as her knack for hobnobbing with her fellow chefs.

“Tania would have the Chef Congeniality,” says Erin. “She is an amazing chef and person, and always has a positive outlook.”

“I would vote for Tania because she is just someone you want to hang out with!” adds Wallace.

Tania Ganassini on Top Chef Canada

Tania Ganassini on Top Chef Canada

See more: Tania Ganassini on How to Embrace Zero-Waste Cuisine

Dennis Peckham

“Dennis, for sure. Those eyes, that hair…” Phil jokes about picking Dennis for Chef Congeniality.

But seriously, suave looks aside, Dennis certainly bonded with his share of contestants during his time on the series. We even saw him crash Paul’s house recently for dinner and a viewing of the show on Paul’s Instagram stories. (No wonder Paul voted for him too!)

Even more telling? Of all the chefs on the series, Dennis captured Benet’s vote too. Considering Benet and Wallace were brothers (save that awkward carnival challenge), that’s kind of a big deal.

Top Chef Canada Chef Dennis Peckham

Dennis Peckham on Top Chef Canada

And the winner is…

Tania!

That’s right, the plant-based chef may not have made the judges’ stomachs sing in every challenge, but she definitely managed to capture her fellow competitors’ hearts. While Dennis amassed four full votes and Phil edged in with a few mentions, it was Tania who nabbed five full votes and walks away as this year’s most congenial chef.

It sure was close, huh? But hey, even Dennis doesn’t have any hard feelings. After all, he also voted for Tania.

“Most all of the chefs were mean or rude to me out of jealousy for my good looks, and piercing blue eyes,” he says. “But if I had to pick one chef it would probably Tania… terrible dancer, great chef, better person.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

This Healthy No-Bake Peanut Butter Cup Pie is Totally Guilt-Free

If you enjoy peanut butter cups, you’ll absolutely love this decadent and creamy pie. The best part? The recipe is super easy to make and doesn’t require any baking, so it’s perfect for those hot summer days. But instead of a traditional peanut butter pie, we’ve swapped in some healthier ingredients, like maple syrup instead of refined sugar and coconut milk instead of cream cheese, to make a dairy-free and refined sugar-free version. Using walnuts and dates to form the crust creates a subtly sweet and crumbly alternative that’s gluten- and grain-free. You’ll love the tasty indulgent combo of salty peanut butter and rich dark chocolate. Most of all, you can truly enjoy this no-bake pie knowing it’s made from good-for-you ingredients.

Healthy No-Bake Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Prep Time: 3 hours
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 ½ cups walnuts
¼ cup dates
¼ cup cacao powder or cocoa powder
2 Tbsp coconut oil
⅛ tsp sea salt

Filling:
1 ½ cups peanut butter
1 ½ cups full-fat coconut milk
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ tsp sea salt

Chocolate Topping:
½ of a 70% dark chocolate bar (40 grams)
1 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions:
1. You’ll make the crust first. If the dates are dried out or a bit tough, it’s best to soak them in a bowl with warm water to soften, around 5 minutes. Drain the dates out of the water. Then combine the walnuts, dates, cacao powder, coconut oil and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a minute or two until the mixture is crumbly and begins to stick together.
2. Grease a 9-inch pie dish with coconut oil. Then press the crumbled crust mixture flat across the bottom of the pie dish with your fingers so that it’s evenly spread out.

3. After rinsing out the food processor bowl, make the filling. Add the peanut butter, coconut milk, maple syrup and sea salt to the bowl and pulse several times to combine. The mixture will be thick and creamy.
4. Pour the filling over top of the crust and use a spatula to spread out evenly.
5. Place the pie into the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. You can also chill the pie overnight and finish the rest of the steps the next day.

6. Set up a double boiler to make the chocolate topping: Add around 1 cup of water to a small pot, and place a small stainless steel bowl over top. Place the chocolate bar and coconut oil in the bowl. Heat on the stove top, stirring the mixture as the chocolate melts. Once the chocolate is fully melted and a smooth mixture, remove from the heat.
7. Take the chilled pie out of the fridge and use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate mixture over top.
8. Place the pie back in the fridge so that the chocolate topping solidifies. This will only take about 5 minutes.
9. Slice the pie and serve! It is best served chilled. Make sure to store leftovers in the fridge.

As the temperatures rise outside, you’ll probably want to skip the oven and opt for some of these 47 No-Bake Desserts You Need to Make This Summer and 35 Easy No-Cook Summer Meals instead.

Nutritionists Reveal 10 Surprising Ways to Reduce Carcinogens When You Grill

Grilling on the BBQ is a summertime must. Who doesn’t love a juicy kebab or burger that’s fresh off the grill, with sangria in hand, enjoying the company of friends and family, outside in the warm sun? While grilling adds incredible flavour and is an easy cooking method, studies have shown that it may increase the risk of cancer. Here’s how: when meat that’s rich in muscle (think: burgers and steaks) is grilled or pan-fried above 300°F or is hit by an open flame, it forms heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These chemicals may mutate DNA, leading to possible cancer risk. While getting that great char on your burger may add flavour, it also adds possible carcinogens into your meal, which definitely puts a damper on summertime grilling; but, fear not, because we have 10 must-know tips for grilling safely this BBQ season!

1. Marinade, Marinade, Marinade

Several studies have found that marinating meat before grilling greatly decreases its carcinogenicity. For example, marinating chicken in a combination of cider vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, salt and even red wine significantly reduced the HCAs in grilled chicken. Marinating pork in beer resulted in the same significant reduction in HCAs. So, marinate your meat before grilling, but minimize the sugars and oils, which can actually increase HCAs and PAHs. If you’re marinade is laden with sugars and oils, reserve it for the end of the grilling period.


Marinating 101: How to Flavour Your Meat, Fish and Vegetables

2. Rosemary is Your Friend

That aromatic, woodsy spice may be your new best friend when it comes to grilling. Studies have found that the compounds in rosemary, known as rosmarinic acid, carnosol and carnosic acid, can block HCAs from forming during grilling. You can use rosemary dried or fresh in marinades, or simply rub the extract on the surface of your meat before grilling to reap the benefits. Other studies found that combining antioxidant-rich herbs (like oregano, thyme, basil, mint and parsley) together in marinades were also effective at reducing HCAs.

3. Pass the Pepper, Please

You may want to add more than a pinch of pepper when it comes to grilling your favourite meat this summer. A study found that mixing 1 gram of pepper with 100 grams of ground beef worked well at inhibiting HCAs, but it was unpalatable, so researchers encourage cooks to load up on pepper and other flavourful herbs to reduce HCAs and give it a pleasing taste. Meats only need to be seasoned a few hours before grilling (seasoning for too long can have the opposite effect, as the antioxidants can decompose).


Get the recipe for Bobby Flay’s Grilled Salmon Steak with Hoisin BBQ Sauce

4. Smother in Garlic and Onion

Studies have indicated that adding garlic and onion to meat before grilling showed a strong reduction in HCAs. It’s best when you combine garlic and onion together, as they can target different HCAs and reduce them. Another study found that adding freshly cut onion to a beef patty that’s fried at 445°F for 8 minutes per side greatly inhibited HCAs. The point is, no matter the form (fresh, powdered, granulated) just make sure you add this allium duo to your meats prior to grilling.

5. Clean Your Grill

Before using your BBQ, make sure all of the grates are clean, and if they’re not, get in there with a brush and scrub! When there’s leftover burnt bits on the grates, it’s likely to drip down when the heat turns up, igniting a big flame. When meats are in direct contact with fire, that’s when PAHs form on their surface. A really easy way to reduce PAHs is to thoroughly clean your grill before and after use.


The Correct (And Simple) Way to Clean Your BBQ: A Step-by-Step Guide

6. Go Lean

HCAs and PAHs are most likely to form at incredibly high temperatures, and over longer cooking periods. Choosing leaner cuts, like flank steak, can help reduce the carcinogens because the cook time is quicker, so it’s not exposed to direct heat for that long. If you are using a fattier cut, don’t cook to the point where it’s completely charred or very, very well done. Instead, take it off the BBQ before it gets to that point. You can also slice your meat into smaller pieces so it cooks faster. Stay away from grilling processed meats like sausages and hot dogs that have nitrates, which are precursors to carcinogenic compounds.

7. Go for the Veg (or Fish)

When veggies and fruits are grilled over a flame, HCAs don’t form, mainly because produce doesn’t have the same muscle and protein content that meat does. For this reason, switch up some grilling habits and add lots of colourful veggies to your BBQ menu. You can also take a break from red meat, instead opting for fish and seafood, which cooks much quicker and doesn’t require being on the grill for too long, reducing overall HCA and PAH levels.


Get the recipe for Candied Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprout Skewers with Red Onion (Plus 4 More Tasty Plant-Based Skewers)

8. Flip It Real Good

Studies have found that continuously flipping your meat on the grill can minimize the formation of carcinogens. As you flip, the surface of the meat is moving around, so it won’t get as charred or burned, which helps to reduce both HCAs and PAHs.

9. Layer with Foil

Since many carcinogens are formed when fat drips down and flames flare up, you can always line your grill with foil and puncture little holes for the drippings to glide down. This helps to prevent your meat from being in direct contact with an open flame.


Get the recipe for Foil-Pack Grilled Sweet-and-Spicy Chicken Wings

10. Master the Gas

Gas grills are the safest when it comes to summer grilling. You can easily control the temperature and place meat away from the direct flame. Your meat can still cook in the heat of the enclosed BBQ, but it doesn’t necessarily need to come into contact with flames. If there are fiery flare ups, you can keep a spray bottle of water close by to help minimize. You can also pre-cook meats in the oven to limit the time they have on the grill.

Craving more tasty and nourishing grilling ideas? We’ve rounded up 18 Healthy Burger Recipes to Eat All Summer Long and 20 Vegan BBQ Recipes That Pack a Flavour Punch.

Hayden Johnston Top Chef Canada

How the Cuisine of Thunder Bay Shaped Top Chef Canada’s Hayden Johnston

Hayden Johnston has a lot of culinary experience under his belt at only 30-years-old, and now he can add a spot in the four of Top Chef Canada to that list. We sat down with Top Chef Canada Season 7 contestant Hayden Johnston to get the scoop on the competition going into the final four, his love for Thunder Bay and the culinary destinations he’d like to visit.

You’re very passionate about your hometown of Thunder Bay. How did the city shape you as a chef?

Growing up in Thunder Bay, you spend a lot of time outside, not necessarily foraging per se, but fishing and hunting. There’s a lot of time gathering with friends and family because it’s a smaller town. It’s close-knit, so we spend a lot of time eating and barbecuing [together].

Read more: 25 Brilliant Camping Food Hacks You’ll Want to Try

Hayden on Top Chef Canada

Were there any hometown dishes that you brought to Toronto with you that people didn’t understand, or that it took them a while to warm up to?

There’s one in particular and I actually cooked it for my first episode — the Shoreline Lunch. That’s something we run as a feature at [Richmond Station] all the time. It’s basically battered and fried fish with roasted potatoes. Maybe there’s a pierogi or two, a can of beans, and whatever else is in the cooler. We would do a more refined version of it. At first, people didn’t get the concept, but now there are diners who come to the restaurant asking when we’re doing Shoreline Lunch next. That’s something that I grew up cooking and eating back home, definitely with friends and family, and something we’ve translated into a more mainstream dish in Toronto.

Thunder Bay Persian Rolls

Is there one item specific to Thunder Bay that you really enjoy eating, like Persians or Finnish pancakes at The Hoito?

My dream is to take over the Hoito. I want to be the chef, cook breakfast and lunch, and be done. It’s just so Thunder Bay. There are so many ingredients, dishes, and techniques that are uniquely “Thunder Bay.” The Persian is a good example of that. We have a large Finnish population, so Finnish pancakes are definitely something, even if you’re not from Thunder Bay. You drive through and everybody goes to the Hoito.

Sometimes I feel awkward throwing that city so much love. People always ask, “What’s so good about Thunder Bay?” For me, it’s home. My family and friends are still there, and I always say that if I have the right opportunity to go back, I totally would.

Get the recipe:  Thunder Bay Persian Rolls

Hayden is joined by his mother on Episode 7 of Top Chef Canada

What was your favourite challenge so far during this season of Top Chef Canada?

My favorite challenge was the Quickfire where we got to cook with a family member. Seeing my mom’s bright, smiling face was the best part of filming the whole season. Even better than my Elimination Challenge win. You’re in a stressful environment for so long that seeing a friendly face that you know is on your team is pretty nice.

Hayden’s Fermented Beef Plate

Which dish are you most proud of so far this season?

I’m most proud of my fermented beef plate that I won the Nordic challenge with. It was very representative of the food that I like to eat and cook, with fresh, clean flavors that are big, bold and acidic.

Read more: Your Guide to Mastering Scandinavian Recipes the Top Chef Canada Way

Do you have a list of culinary destinations that you’d like to visit if you win Top Chef Canada?

If there was one area I could focus on, it would be the Southern US. Not barbecue necessarily, but the Sean Brock style of seasonal cooking. I spent two weeks staging at Husk years ago. I like to see the history of food and [learn about] a group of people that have something that’s specific to them. Finding those little niches is really fun. There’s a place in Tennessee called Blackberry Farm that does a lot of [farm to table cuisine].  At the restaurant, we cook a ton of vegetables, so [visiting] Southern California, Napa or Yountville where it’s vegetable-focused would be really neat.

I’m more ingredient or technique-focused. I went to Husk to learn how to cook rice and beans. I really wanted to learn how to pick vegetables from a garden, so I staged two weeks with Dan Barber at Blue Hill in New York. When I want to learn something, I go and find the person who does it best.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Watch Hayden on the finale of Top Chef Canada on Monday, May 20 at 10 P.M. E/P.

The Only 3 No-Bake Cookie Recipes You Need in Your Life

Snack happy with three unique, delicious and good-for-you energy bites – no oven required. For the keto crowd: a fat bomb layered with the flavours of lemon-raspberry cheesecake. These frozen snacks are the ultimate in-between meal booster that will satisfy your sweet tooth, without getting you away from your dietary goals.

And, for the cookie lovers (all of us), a no-bake cookie base with a choose-your-own-adventure option: classic chocolate chip or cozy oatmeal raisin. Both no-bake cookie creations are gluten-free, and the chocolate chip variation is also grain-free. All three of these no-bake treats are ideal for packed lunches, a pre- or post- workout snack and a healthier after-dinner dessert.

Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Keto Fat Bombs

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Freeze Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Makes: 12

Ingredients:
1½ cups recently boiled water
1 cup raw unsalted cashews
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup unsalted butter or coconut oil
1 to 2 Tbsp keto sweetener or liquid sweetener, to taste
½ tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Directions:
1. Line a 12-count muffin tin with papers.
2. In a high-speed blender, add all ingredients except raspberries and blend until smooth and creamy. Add half the batter to the bottom of the papers. Add raspberries to the remaining half of the batter and puree again until smooth.
3. Top plain cheesecake batter with raspberry batter, and tap the pan a few times to release any air bubbles.
4. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or until set. Unwrap papers and serve frozen.
5. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months.

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies & No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Makes: 3 dozen

Ingredients:

No-Bake Cookie Base
4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup unsalted nut butter (almond butter, peanut butter, etc.)
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup coconut flour
¼ cup unsweetened plain almond milk
¾ tsp fine-grain salt

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 recipe No-Bake Cookie Base (from above)
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
flaky sea salt, to taste

No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1 recipe No-Bake Cookie Base (from above)
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
¾ cup raisins
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

No-Bake Cookie Base
1. In a food processor, blend coconut until it resembles the smooth and creamy consistency of almond butter (you are making coconut butter), stopping the machine to scrape down the sides several times. This will take about 10 minutes.
2. To the coconut butter, add nut butter, maple syrup, coconut flour, almond milk and salt. Blend until a dough forms. Transfer dough to a large bowl.

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies
1. To the cookie base, add chocolate chips and mix well.
2. Scoop 2- to 3-Tbsp portions of dough onto a cookie sheet. Roll dough into balls and sprinkle with flaky salt.
3. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
4. Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 2 months. These taste best cold.

No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
1. To the cookie base, add oats, raisins and cinnamon and mix well. If the mixture seems too dry to compress (flours vary in absorbency), add an additional 1 Tbsp or more of almond milk.
2. Scoop 2- to 3-Tbsp portions of dough onto a cookie sheet. Roll dough into balls and then slightly press down with the palm of your hand.
3. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
4. Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 2 months. These taste best cold.

Looking for more easy, no-bake treats to add to your repertoire?  We’ve rounded up our 21 Best Ever No-Bake Desserts (from a peanut butter cheesecake to chocolate brownies!).

Duff Goldman Tweets

Hilarious Things Duff Goldman Tweets That Will Make Your Day

Anyone who watches Duff Takes the Cake — and has seen Ace of Cakes or Buddy vs. Duff — knows Duff Goldman is a funny, goofy dude. Yes, he’s all about the cakes and can create just about anything from flour and sugar (and all the other necessary ingredients), but it’s his colourful personality that really makes him something to behold.

Now, if you think he’s only like that on television, then you don’t follow him on social media. And if you don’t, then why aren’t you? Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or all of the above, here’s proof that the charm (Goldman’s studio isn’t called Charm City Cakes for nothing!) we see from Duff on TV isn’t far off from real life. In fact, based on these tweets, perhaps what we see on the small screen is just a taste of the real Duff.

Our minds don’t even want to go in the vicinity of a place this desolate.

If Duff is implying that he will send cakes north of the border, then excuse us while we email our orders in.

He’s a big dude who makes big cakes but little staircases can be a challenge.

Hmm, perhaps Duff needs to address Geof this way from now on.

Oh, Mrs. Goldman. We’re with Duff.

Huh. Goldman might be the best baker around but sometimes it’s the simpler things in the life that make for the yummiest things.

Duff might not be a dad yet but this might be the daddiest joke ever.

The biggest pizza debate and Duff has taken sides …

… though even he has his limits.

Duff may be self-deprecating but he won’t tolerate being made fun of.

Hmm, guess Duff isn’t as close with this pal, Carl Ruiz, as he thought.

Apparently bull riders are wild in more ways than one.

It’s a team effort. To 17 more years! And another 17 on top of that. And another … well, you catch our drift.

Tune in to Duff Takes the Cake on Sundays at 9 and 9:30 PM E/P.

Ask a Plant-Based Chef: How to Embrace Zero-Waste Cuisine

Top Chef Canada Season 7 contestant Tania Ganassini has a mission to introduce nutritious and satisfying plant-based dishes to a wider audience. Here, the vegetarian chef offers up her must-try tips for incorporating plant-based meals into your weekly rotation, and moving toward a zero-waste lifestyle.

How important is it for everyone to start adopting a zero-waste lifestyle?

It’s crucial. Every single one of us needs to start embracing a zero-waste lifestyle, not just in terms of our food waste, but with single-use plastics and even our clothing. Really look at not sending things to landfill, and not purchasing “new” all the time. Repurpose food in the fridge by using the rinds, leaves, and roots that get thrown in the trash. It’s something I’m extremely fired up about. I want to spread the message about zero-waste living, or less wasteful living because we’re a wasteful species post-industrial revolution. We need to revert back to our old ways, like growing our own food and using every part of the vegetable or animal. Being mindful of our consumption and waste is not an option anymore.

Read more: 12 Best Zero-Waste Restaurants and Food Stores Across Canada

Are there easy ways to reduce waste while cooking?

Try to grow your own food. It gives you a different appreciation for the ingredient because you’ve seen it go from seedling to actual vegetable.

Purchase locally from farmers. Having a connection with your grower really changes the way you look at each ingredient and the way you utilize it.

Instead of doing one grocery shop a week, maybe do a few, especially for fresh produce. Logistically, that can be really hard for people, so maybe [try] a grocery delivery program if it’s not convenient for you to leave.

Purchase less so you can manage the amount of food you have in your fridge. We all shop hungry with ambitions of making these meals at the end of the week, but it’s a really easy way to let produce go bad in your fridge.

Know how to use every part of each ingredient, like which leaves are great to use and how to repurpose them. Pestos are an amazing way to use carrot tops, beet tops, kale stems, or chard stems. You can use citrus peels in household cleaners, or candy them. It’s truly endless.

Take a moment, almost like a moving meditation, and [think about] where your food came from. Instead of just haphazardly discarding parts of the ingredient — whether it be plant or animal — take a second to try to be creative. Maybe it takes an extra step to chop up the stems and wash them, but over time it saves you money. It’s amazing for the planet, and it’s the way forward.

Do you have a go-to clean your fridge, food scrap recipe?

We make some version of a classic ribollita easily once a week with Tuscan beans, greens and vegetables. It’s a super easy way to hide stems, or use that one weird carrot in your fridge, or celery that’s going limp. It’s a one-pot, throw everything in [dish]. Beans are the foundation, plus garlic, onion, celery, carrot and some type of green vegetable like cabbage, kale or Swiss chard. You can hide any vegetable in there. Toss in a can of tomatoes, and finish it with lots of herbs, lemon, parsley and Parmesan, if you eat cheese. I like to make a vegan cheese with almond flour, hemp seeds and nutritional yeast. If you want to take it up a notch, add some really beautiful pasta like ditalini or shells.

Read More: 10 Vegetables You Can Regrow in Your Kitchen

Can you suggest some tips for incorporating plant-based meals for meat eaters?

A good first step is replacing your normal animal products with a veggie substitute like vegan cheese or making your own cheese with cashews. It opens up a world of possibilities with cooking because you’re not relying on old favourites like butter, cream and bacon.

Look at recipes that you love, like lasagna. It’s a classic, and everybody probably has one in their repertoire. Translating that into a vegan or vegetarian version is great because the ingredients and flavours are familiar, and you’re just making a few small swaps.

The-Perfect-Vegan-Lasagna-hot-for-food
Get the recipe: The Perfect Vegan Lasagna

It’s different than it was five or 10 years ago, and a lot easier to find substitutes that taste just as good. People still need to really enjoy their meals. I never want anyone to feel like they’re missing out. The joy and pleasure of eating is such a big part of it. One meatless meal a day or week makes a big impact. Pick one day a week, plan it out and get the whole family on board so they don’t feel like it’s being slapped on their plate as a some kind of punishment. You might actually be surprised by how you feel and how much you love it, and then it could maybe lead to two days a week or [more].

Read More: 20 Easy Vegan Weeknight Dinner Recipes

What do you believe is the most underrated food?

I have a mild obsession with lentils. They get a bad rep because they’re boring, they don’t look beautiful. But they’re chameleons of flavour, even on their own with a simple braising liquid, like homemade veggie stock. That’s an amazing way to use food scraps. Veggie stock can be transformed into a trillion different things. Lentils have all kinds of varieties that fit into every cuisine. They are very meaty and packed with nutrition that keeps you full. If digesting lentils is a concern, soak them overnight first and then cook them the next day to help with digestion, or buy sprouted lentils. They are a superfood in every way, and I’ll never get tired of them.

Saskatoon Berry Lentil Muffins
Try: Saskatoon Berry Lentil Muffins

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Marinating-101-How-to-Flavour-Your-Meat-Fish-and-Vegetables

Marinating 101: How to Flavour Your Meat, Fish and Vegetables

A little pre-planning, a bit of time and some pantry staples can take basic vegetables, fish or meat and transform it all into a tasty meal. And, with marinades pairing particularly well with standard produce and budget-friendly cuts of meat — such as flank steak — it’s also a cost-effective way to cook.

Korean-Style Marinated Skirt Steak with Grilled Scallions and Warm Tortillas Read more at http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipe/korean-style-marinated-skirt-steak-with-grilled-scallions-and-warm-tortillas/15976/#IOi3whk9gJybCjVE.99
Korean-Style Marinated Skirt Steak with Grilled Scallions and Warm Tortillas

See more: How to Grill the Perfect Steak Every Time

Marinade Tips

Marinating for grilling season is as simple as mixing together a few ingredients, coating vegetables, tofu or meats and letting it all sit so the flavours can penetrate. If you’ve got five minutes, you have time to make a marinade. Mix it all in a re-sealable bag or a covered dish, put it in the fridge and, with a bit of patience, dinner is just a quick sear, roast or grill away. Since time is essentially one of the main ingredients, marinades are great for those busy days when you don’t have time to hang out in the kitchen

See more: Your Guide to Perfect Grilling Times and Temperatures

Glass baking dishes, food-safe plastic containers and re-sealable bags are your best bets here. You’ll want to make sure all your meat or vegetables are covered with the marinade — or, in a pinch, you can occasionally flip them to make sure they get equal time in the mixture. Baking dishes are great for large, flat, skirt or flank steaks. You’ll want to stay away from metal containers or pottery, though, as they can react with the acidic ingredients in your marinade.

The fridge is your friend when it comes to marinating. It keeps things cool, which will prevent any harmful bacteria from growing. For quick dinners on busy nights, you can also freeze ingredients in a marinade in advance, then let them thaw in the fridge before cooking.

Grilled-Shiitake-and-Tofu-Banh-Mi
Grilled Shiitake and Tofu Banh Mi

Skip store-bought and head to your cupboards for DIY versions that pack a punch of flavour. Most marinades are made up of oil, aromatics — think ginger, garlic, shallots — acids like vinegar or lemon juice, herbs and some salt. You can also find ones with yogurt bases, especially when cooking Indian. Some call for acidic fruits such as kiwi or pineapple, which are great for tenderizing meat.

You’ll want flavours that naturally lend themselves to the ingredient you’re marinating. Lemon, oregano and garlic are great for Greek-inspired chicken dishes, for example. Or go for an Asian-inspired marinade for pork using soy, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. Avoid overpowering your meat or vegetables, though. Steak, chicken and tofu can stand up to more robust flavours, but seafood is best with simpler marinades. You still want the fish flavour to shine through.

Grilled-Sea-Bream-with-Herbs-and-Garlic-CroutonsGrilled Sea Bream with Herbs and Garlic Croutons

How Long Should You Marinate For?

The combination of fat, acid and aromatics adds flavour and moisture and turns even tough cuts of meat tender. Letting ingredients sit in a marinade allows it to penetrate the ingredients’ surface for maximum flavour. Of course, the marinade can only go so far, so this works best for thinner cuts of beef, like flank or skirt steak, thinly sliced vegetables or ingredients with a lot of surface area. Cubing thicker cuts like chicken breasts will make your marinade go further with flavour. Taking off chicken skin before marinating will also help the flavours penetrate.

Timing is everything. Marinating is great because you can mix everything up and then walk away, letting it do all the work before you’re ready to cook. But you’ll still need to watch the clock. For seafood and soft vegetables, too much time can ruin dinner. Fish and shrimp only need a little time in a marinade before they’re ready to cook — 30 minutes or so. Too long and the marinade will actually start to break down or ‘cook’ seafood — like in a ceviche. Firm veggies, such as carrots and potatoes, can handle up to a half-hour of time in a marinade, but softer ones, like zucchini, just need a quick dip. Too long and they’ll just get soggy.

There’s more flexibility with chicken, beef and tofu when it comes to time spent marinating. A couple of hours will add flavour, but, for the most part, you can let these ingredients sit in the fridge in a marinade for a day. Prepare in the morning and dinner is quick to make when you get home.


The Pioneer Woman’s Jerk Chicken

See more: How to Cook the Perfect Grilled Chicken Every Time

Get Grilling

Once you’re ready to cook, it’s time to toss the marinade. It might seem wasteful, but re-using a marinade, which could contain dangerous bacteria, is a health concern. It did its job already — you can let it go!

Now your food is flavoured, you’ve tossed the remaining marinade and you’re getting hungry. The last step is to get cooking. Marinated meats, fish and vegetables are great on the grill. Thin beef cuts, cubed chicken or chicken thighs, shrimp, prawns, fish and sliced vegetables need just a few minutes of searing to make them perfect. Thicker cuts will naturally take longer. Don’t forget to use a meat thermometer to ensure chicken or pork is cooked to the proper temperature!

If it’s not grilling weather — though when isn’t it grilling weather in Canada? — you can also sear meats and vegetables on your stove top. Grill pans are great, but any pan will do. Larger portions of meat — whole chickens, pork tenderloins and so on — will do well roasted in the oven, as will sturdier vegetables.

See more: How to Properly Season a Cast Iron Skillet

They’re easy, require no chef skills or unusual ingredients, but marinades make for a delicious meal. Let that idea marinate for a bit and then hit the kitchen!

Buddy Valastro Celebrity Cakes

Buddy Valastro’s Coolest Celebrity Cake Creations

In Bake You Rich, professional bakers vie for the opportunity to have one of their creations produced and sold online by none other than Buddy Valastro. Because who better to know a good concoction than the Cake Boss himself? Buddy has made his fair share of cakes over the years out of the family-run Carlo’s Bake Shop and whether they get customers walking in and grabbing a cake off the shelves, or accommodating custom orders for fans and celebrities, people are never disappointed.

Take these stars, for example. They asked for epic creations from Buddy, and they received. Boy, did they ever.

Beyoncé

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Thank you Cake Boss! @buddyvalastro

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This cake may look simple, but its purpose was significant. In honour of Beyoncé’s eponymous fifth album, it was meant to look both like actual vinyl as well as the understated album cover. Super sexy, just like the singer.

Willie Nelson

For Willie Nelson’s 80th birthday in 2013, Buddy constructed a guitar-shaped cake with fudge filling, inspired by the country music legend’s beloved guitar, Trigger. Buddy and his team added a little whimsy in the form of munchies, including chips, popcorn and pretzels. Now that’s the high life.

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter played for the New York Yankees his entire career so it made perfect, delicious sense that his farewell cake featured the team’s iconic pinstripes and logo, and Jeter’s No. 2. Both sweet and bittersweet.

Melissa and Joe Gorga

Considering Buddy’s Hoboken roots, it’s no wonder he and wife Lisa are pals with Real Housewives of New Jersey stars Melissa and Joe Gorga. For Joe’s new book, Melissa enlisted Buddy to create a cake in the likeness of The Gorga Guide to Success. And it was pretty magnificent.

Common and John Legend

For a reception that celebrated Common and John Legend’s Academy Award-winning song, “Glory,” from the Selma soundtrack, an epic cake was required. So who better than Buddy and his team to create an edible work of art like this replica of Selma, Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge?

Britney Spears

Britney celebrated her birthday and the release of her sixth album, Circus, with a concoction that basically looked like one giant firecracker. What a beaut!

Melissa Gorga

The RHONJ star had pal Buddy to thank in 2017 when she celebrated her birthday with a three-tier, black-and-white Chanel-themed cake. Because, of course.

Flo Rida

For Flo Rida’s visit to the Today show, Buddy created an extra-cool cake that was perfect for the rapper and his performance of “Cake” with 99 Percent. How fitting.

Big Bird

The details of the feathers, the nest, and the slice of cake Big Bird is holding all looks absolutely scrumptious, so much so that we almost couldn’t eat it. Almost.

Tune in to Bake You Rich on Sundays at 10 PM E/P.

Anna-Olson-Birthday-Cake-tile

Here’s the Cake Anna Olson Bakes for Her Birthday – and Why You Should, Too!

Everybody loves birthday cake! And why not? A birthday cake means there is a celebration, and someone is being honoured, and best of all if that person is YOU!

My birthday is May 8th, falling very near or sometimes right on Mother’s Day, so there are now two reasons to bake a cake.  The question is: what type of cake to make?  You’ve seen me make every possible type of cake, but are you curious which are my favourites?  Here are a few things about me and my love of cake, and some guiding tips that I follow:

Cake vs. Cupcake

Cupcakes were always my choice growing up, and ballerinas were my “thing”. My Mom had a set of plastic ballerina figurines that she would top each cupcake with for years.

Remember regular layer cake batters don’t always adapt well to cupcakes.  Often wet batters will stick to the paper liners on cupcakes instead of peeling away easily.  If you want a cupcake, choose a cupcake recipe.

Chocolate-Spice-Cupcakes
Chocolate Spice Cupcake with Chocolate “Swirl” Frosting

Tip: When baking cake layers, whether round or square, use cake pans with sides that are a straight 90° from the bottom.  Some cake pans have angled sides (for the only reason that they nest well for shipping) but when layers are assembled, the cake won’t have straight sides, and the angle is noticeable when the cake is sliced. I’ve designed my Anna Olson Kitchen cake pans specifically with this in mind.

Choosing Your Cake Flavour

I love the classically named cakes, with their defined flavour & filling combinations:


Black Forest Cake – chocolate cake, cherry filling and whipped cream frosting

Dobos-TorteDobos Torte – thin layers of nut sponge with chocolate buttercream and a caramelized sugar “fan” on top

Opera-TorteOpera Torte – sponge, ganache and mocha buttercream

I also like watching cake flavour and decor trends, including “naked” cakes, confetti cakes, and I am going through a serious waffle cake phase right now.

I don’t repeat birthday cakes – I change it up every year, and I rarely choose a chocolate cake.

When to Bake Your Cake

Because I’d like to be a guest at my own birthday party, I plan on baking the cake layers two days ahead (or baking and freezing further ahead) and making the fillings and frosting the day before, and assembling then.

Tip: Cake layers are less crumbly and easier to slice when baked a day before frosting them.

Anna-Olson-birthday-cake

Tip: Unfrosted cake layers should not be refrigerated (it would dry the cake out. If baking a day ahead, wrap them well and leave them on the counter.  Once assembled, the frosting seals in the moisture, so it can be chilled and stay fresh.

How Long Will Your Cake Sit Out?

If the weather is nice (and you went to a deal of effort), you’ll want to show off the cake and let it sit out at room temperature (out of direct sunlight).

Tip: Frosting and fondants that have food colouring added fade when exposed to direct sunlight. Take care where the cake is placed for display, and adding a little glycerin (available where you buy cake decorating supplies) to your frosting or fondant will help preserve the colour.

So you need to choose fillings and frosting that suit:

Out for under 30 minutes: mousse fillings and whipped cream frostings are fine.

Out for 30-90 minutes: Curd fillings, fruit fillings, cream cheese frostings and chocolate ganache can handle sitting out for longer.

Out for 90+ minutes: Swiss buttercream cakes, fondant covered cakes, and cupcakes can sit out longer.  Italian buttercream is the most stable frosting, which is why it is a favourite choice of pastry chefs for wedding cakes.

Anna’s Birthday Cake

So now that we’ve talked about all types of cakes, what is my choice for a birthday cake?  And the winner is:

Lemon-Swiss-Buttercream-Hatbox-Cake
Lemon Swiss Buttercream Hatbox Cake

Lemon cakes are ideal in spring, and I’m also thinking about Mother’s Day – I’ll be celebrating with my Mom then, and she loves a good lemon cake as well.  The silkiness of the Swiss buttercream is sweet, smooth and stable, but is not overly rich or cloying.  I’m not certain that I’ll replicate this hatbox style – I may go for piping spring flowers on top to suit the season.  Now that the Anna Olson Kitchen line carries a box of 100 reusable & recyclable disposable piping bags, and a piping tip set, there are no limits to my decor stylings.

Lemon-Swiss-Buttercream-Hatbox-Cake-version-2

And if you are baking a birthday cake for yourself or someone else, remember that delicious memories are made in the kitchen – enjoy the time spent baking as much as the time spent eating!

 

The Anna Olson Kitchen collection of 48 items of bakeware, baking tools and décor tools are available exclusively at The Hudson’s Bay Company and  www.thebay.com

Lemon-Meringue-Cake-feature-image

This Lemon Meringue Cake is Just Like the Pie, Only Better

Step into spring with a sunny citrus dessert! Lemon pie lovers will delight in the light and fluffy lemon cake layers, made even better thanks to the cake’s tangy lemon curd filling.

In case your mouth wasn’t watering already, the entire confection is swirled and smothered with cloud-like meringue frosting. Fresh slices of nearly neon-hued citrus fruit become simple, natural embellishments for this cheerful cake. Each light bite is literally bursting with flavour, making it an extra special treat for a Mother’s Day brunch, an extra special tea or a spring birthday treat.

Lemon-Meringue-Cake-sliced

Lemon Meringue Cake

Bake Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours
Serves: 12 to 16

Ingredients:
2 Batches of Lemon Curd (reserve egg whites for meringue)

Cake:
1½ cups granulated sugar
Zest of two lemons
2½ cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Meringue:
6 large egg whites (reserved from making Lemon Curd)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Assembly:
Assorted citrus fruit for garnish

whole-Lemon-Meringue-Cake

Directions:
Lemon Curd:
1. Prepare a double-batch of Lemon Curd and allow to thicken for at least 4 hours or overnight. Save the egg whites for the meringue.

Cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the sugar and lemon zest. Rub them together with your fingertips until fragrant. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl with the lemon sugar. Using the paddle attachment, beat the ingredients on low speed until just combined. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until evenly distributed. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and about half of the milk, and mix until the dry ingredients are moistened, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
3. Whisk the eggs into the remaining milk mixture and stir to combine. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the egg mixture in three additions, mixing for about 15 seconds after each addition and stopping the mixer between additions to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
4. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the pans. Allow the cakes to cool completely before assembling.
Notes: To keep the cake batter from getting too lumpy, add the liquid ingredients slowly and take care to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl often. Do not be tempted to over-mix if a few lumps remain in the batter before baking.

slice-Lemon-Meringue-Cake

Meringue:
1. Put the reserved egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Briefly whisk them together by hand until just combined. In a medium saucepan, bring an inch or two of water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler (be sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Heat the mixture, whisking occasionally, until it registers 160°F on a candy thermometer.
2. Carefully place the bowl back on the stand mixer and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg white mixture on high speed until glossy, medium-stiff peaks form, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. Use immediately.

Assembly:
1. Place one layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round piping tip with a portion of the meringue. Pipe a ring of meringue around the top edge of the cake. Fill the centre of the meringue “dam” with half of the lemon curd. Place the second layer of cake on top and repeat. Place the final layer cake, bottom-side-up, on the top. Fill in any gaps between the layers of cake with the meringue right away to keep the curd from escaping.
2. Frost the cake with the remaining meringue. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to give it a rustic, swirly finish.
3. Cut away the skin/pith of the citrus fruit and slice into rounds (about ¼-inch thick). Place the fruit slices on top the cake and serve. Cake may be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

Looking for more spring sweets inspiration? Try these 50 Stunning Mother’s Day Desserts.

Your Ultimate Guide to Perfect Grilling Times and Temperatures

Chicken and beef are standard grilling fare, but by no means are they your only options for when you want to fire up the barbecue.

Become a master of all meats — and vegetables — with this guide, learning the secrets to cooking game meats, the right temperatures for safe eating and just what vegetables you should be picking up for a mouth-watering grilled feast (along with some good tools to have on hand). With this guide, you’ll be turning to your grill for every possible meal before you know it.

Tools of the Trade

Just as chefs need good knives and pots, grilling enthusiasts should have some key accessories in their toolbox.

Fire-Masters-tools

Tongs: This is essential in any barbecue enthusiast’s tool kit. Barbecue forks are likely to pierce meat when used to flip it over on the grill, letting all those essential juices pour out.

A Flexible Spatula: If you plan to cook fish, invest in a flexible spatula, which will allow you to gently lift pieces off the grill without them breaking apart.

A Meat Thermometer: The only sure way to ensure your grilled meats are perfectly cooked is to use a thermometer. This simple instant-read tool, which uses a steel probe to determine the temperature in both Fahrenheit and Centigrade, will allow you to check whether your proteins are grilled to perfection in a flash. Or take to the next level with thermometers designed to stay in the food as it cooks — alerting you when your dish is ready.

Grilling Pork

Pork chops are great, but there are more great cuts of meat to explore in the supermarket for grill-ready proteins. Ribs, roasts and tenderloins are all tasty options for your barbecue — not to mention pork products, like sausages. Each of these cuts requires a different approach when you get to your grill.

One of the biggest questions for home cooks and grill enthusiasts is what temperature pork must be cooked to in order to be considered food safe? For many years, the rule was that pork needed to be well done, but now we can cook whole pork cuts to medium (or 145°F / 63°C to 160°F / 71°C) and still meet national health guidelines. That means no more dry, overcooked pork on your plate — something that should definitely have you exploring this type of meat more often. However, ground pork or sausage be cooked thoroughly.

Try: Grilled Pork Tenderloin a la Rodriguez with Guava Glaze and Orange-Habanero Mojo

Pork should be cooked over medium heat but grill times will vary widely depending on what cut you are serving. For all pork cuts, a post-grill rest will give juices a chance to redistribute, making for a tasty and tender dish.

Pork Chops: ¾” thick chops take between 8 to 12 minutes total — flip once about halfway through — while a chop twice that thickness should take anywhere from 22 and 35 minutes.

Pork Tenderloin: A 1- or 11/2-pound tenderloin needs between 20 and 30 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 145°F / 63°C to 160°F / 71°C.

Pork Roast: Whole roasts naturally take longer and cooking times are by weight. For a 2-pound roast, plan on 20 to 26 minutes per pound, while a roast weighing between 3 and 5 pounds takes about 12 to 15 minutes.

Read more: The 36 Best BBQ Pork Recipes

Grilling Lamb

No longer just served for Easter suppers, lamb is ideal for grilling year-round. This meat’s high-fat content keeps it tender and juicy as it cooks. Lamb pairs well with many types of marinades and rubs, so the flavour options are endless.

Fire Masters Lamb Rack

Lamb Chops: These are a great choice for beginners because it is easier to keep them from overcooking.

Boneless Roast and Lamb Legs: These cuts of meat also do well on the grill, even over direct heat.

Racks of Lamb and Lamb Roast: That doesn’t mean you should avoid racks of lamb or roasts, just keep that instant-read meat thermometer close at hand to prevent these cuts from drying out or getting overcooked. Look for 160°F / 71°C for medium doneness and 170°F / 77°C for well done.

Read more: 20 Simple Lamb Recipes for Chops, Roasts, Skewers and More

Grilling Game Meat

For game meat enthusiasts, grilling is a good way to go. The key difference with bison, venison or elk — compared to beef, say — is that these incredibly lean meats need to be monitored closely. It doesn’t take much to go from juicy cuts to cardboard. Cooking them past medium-rare is not advised.

A quick trick that yields the best results is to start the cooking process in the oven, roasting the meats before throwing them on the grill to get those sear marks and that signature grilled flavour. Brining or marinating the meats, wrapping them in bacon or using wet rubs will help keep game meats juicy and flavourful.

Bison: Bison is fairly common these days and can be picked up at many butchers’ as well as some chain grocery stores. For grilling, try tenderloin or striploin steaks. Ground up, will make a fantastic burger. Remove from the grill when meat reaches an internal temperature 120°F / 49°C to 125°F / 52°C for best results.

Fire Masters Game Meat

Venison: Wild venison is gamier than farm-raised deer, which tends to have a rich flavour. You can purchase it at some butcher shops, but phone ahead first to make sure they have what you’re looking for. Your best bet for this incredibly lean meat is to purchase steaks or tenderloin. Like bison, cook venison to an internal temperature of 120°F / 49°C to 125°F / 52°C.

Wild Boar: Wild boar is generally cooked like its domesticated cousin, the pig, and should come off the grill at 145°F / 63°C for a tender cut of meat.

Elk: The cooking approach for elk is the same as venison, but these two meats have very different flavour profiles. Elk is incredibly tender and has a cleaner, almost slightly sweet, flavour. Opt for roasts or steaks and cook to a temperature of 120°F / 49°C to 125°F / 52°C.

Read more: 11 Tips for Grilling Great Game Meat

Grilling Vegetables

When thinking about grilling, most tend to go straight to protein, but vegetables (and fruit!) get great flavour boosts from some flame-kissed time on a hot grill. A little marinating goes a long way and pretty much any veggie is fair game.

Fire Masters vegetables

Read more: Veggie-Forward Grilled Skewers and Kebabs

Asparagus pairs well with grilled meats — a squeeze of lemon over the plate when they’re cooked is a nice addition. Summer standards, such as corn, tomatoes and zucchini are natural additions to a grilled feast. Even salad benefits with a grilling twist. Simply cut lettuce (or radicchio) in half and cook until there’s a slight char to the cut side. Drizzle over dressing and serve as an appetizer or side dish.

Corral vegetables to keep them from falling through the cooking grids. Either of these will keep food on top of the grill where it belongs, plus they make it easy to turn fruit, veggies or delicate foods over. The hinged basket keeps everything in place, so turning items over is as simple as a flip, while you can use the wok just as you would on a stove with a pair of tongs or spatula to toss and mix.

Where to Eat in Toronto: Top Chef Canada’s Erin Smith’s Top 5 Restaurants

Cooking for a large crew can be daunting, but for Erin Smith that’s just any other day that ends in the letter “y.” The mother-of-three is currently on maternity leave, so she figured what better time to step up in the culinary world and show what she’s got than now, on Top Chef Canada.

Related: Read Erin Smith’s full bio here.

The Toronto chef is no stranger to her city’s food scene, having landed a gig at Mark McEwan’s Bymark restaurant straight out of culinary school at George Brown College. So she’s certainly aware of all the great options when it comes to dining out.

“Toronto has always had such a vibrant culinary scene,” she says. “I truly love that Toronto has something to offer to everyone. It really is a melting pot of cultural and culinary diversity.”

So where does Erin like to eat out when she gets a rare night on the town? Here she breaks down her Top 5 spots.

Edulis

It’s all about the tasting menus at this dining experience, which features either a five- or seven-course seating. All of the dishes are inspired by seasonal ingredients with a strong focus on seafood, vegetables, and wild mushrooms, and come truffle season there are special menus to match. The place is also known for its robust cheese menu, which features a curated selection of Canadian and European offerings.

As for Erin? She vouches for “the entire tasting menu.”

 

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4th Course – Wild Nunavut Arctic Char with Baby Leeks and Wild Grape Sauce Vierge.

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See more: Top Chef Canada Restaurant Guide

416 Snack Bar

This utensils-free eatery features an ever-changing menu from former Top Chef Canada All-Stars contestant Dustin Gallagher, and since its opening in 2011 has become known for its reasonably priced but tasty snacks. Erin is hard pressed to pick just one of the “great late-night bites” available, but with offerings like Korean Fried Chicken, Fully Loaded Dips in Chips and Morels on Toast with Cognac Cream, we’d have a hard time picking one menu item to single out too.

 

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morels on toast, cognac cream

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Bymark

Erin may be a little biased in selecting her former stomping grounds as one of her favourite restos, but let’s be honest—who in Toronto hasn’t heard of McEwan’s famous truffled Bymark Burger, which she names as her must-have menu item whenever she stops by. At this point, just the thought of that original craft burger with its meat patty and various adornments is enough to make us salivate.

Maha’s Egyptian Brunch

Toronto has no shortage of brunch places, but for something truly unique and delicious Erin names this Egyptian eatery as her favourite. The no-reservation establishment closes its kitchen down by 4:30 p.m. on weekends so that it can focus solely on the brunch crowd, feeding them everything from Eggs and Foole and Date Grilled Cheese, to the vegan Betengan (a roasted eggplant dish).

Dandylion

Erin names “everything” when it comes to the short and sweet menu featured at Chef Jay Carter’s critically acclaimed Queen West restaurant, and we can’t say we blame her. Simple but bold flavours are the key to the resto’s ongoing success. Here, guests enjoy top nosh and a quaint dining room complete with an exposed brick wall, which has inadvertently become an Instagram backdrop lately. Even the bread, which is made from a starter the chef got going years ago, is worth raving about.

 

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I finally crossed Dandylion off my list of restaurants to try ! The restaurant is currently no.12 on @canadasbest100 restaurant list for 2018 and the menu is small with 9 dishes in total when I went in Aug. What’s on the menu is basically what you will see on the plate lol. The overall meal was really good, albeit the prices . The price for the appetizers were roughly the same as the mains (approx. $24-$30), though portions were pretty much the same . Also, I have heard of mixed reviews regarding the service here so take that into consideration when you go. The service for me that night wasn’t the best but not the worst either lol . Amberjack, Cauliflower, Shrimp Sauce ($30) – I usually have amberjack raw in sushi form so this was my first time seeing it on the menu as a cooked item . The preparation is similar to tuna and I actually prefer to have it this way, rather than the regular sushi/sashimi style lol Preserved Berry Tart, Pastry Cream ($13) – so so good — . . . . . . #HangryFoodies #torontolife #blogto #curiocitytoronto #dishedto #to_finest #tastetoronto #dailyfoodfeed #goodeats #hypefeast #bestfoodworld #buzzfeedfood #torontofood #tofoodies #starvingfoodseeker #fbcigers #lovetoronto #FeastON #culturetripfood #torontoblogger #toptorontorestaurants #topfoodnews #queenstreetwest #Canada100sBest #theartofplating #gastroart #myfujifilm

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Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10 PM E/P on Food Network Canada.